Thursday, September 19, 2013


Simple Words - There are times when we absolutely love a writer’s style.  You should stop yourself and ask why?  Let’s consider a few things that might make our writing better.
One lesson I learned early on – don’t use the thesaurus to show how truly intelligent you are.  People will be impressed with your education and way with words.  NOT!  They rule I learned was one or two cleverly placed ‘big’ words in an entire novel. 
What? You ask.  Well, who likes to be written down-to?  I know I don’t.  If I’m reading a book that is fraught (burdened, full, filled, laden, loaded, best, charged) with words not commonly used – I won’t finish it.  The writer is showing off and I don’t care diddly about the story.
Simple words—whether nouns verbs, or adjectives— are more inclined to have broader meanings and undertones.  Complicated words have more specific meanings.
Deaded Long Sentences- I’m sure you’ve all noticed them – the long, long, long sentence separated by three or four commas, heck they are even a paragraph long, but if you look back, they truly are just one long, long, sentence.  I’m exhausted just typing that!  If you want to make your writing clearer – limit the use of long sentences.  I’m not talking short choppy sentences, but I am saying a variation of medium and short sentences weaved together to tell your story without running out of breath.
It’s Redundant – Nothing annoys me more than reading the same information from two or even three different characters.  I read it once, that’s all I need.  If you must repeat information, introduce it into the conversation in a fresh way.
Active Voice is Stronger – We often hear comments about using active voice.  For example, the sentence, “I love your style” is active voice.  But, “Her style was loved by everyone” is passive and actually takes more words.  In general, the active voice is stronger, flows better, and cuts the words.

Be Specific – We’ve all heard, even said the cliché, “don’t beat around the bush.”  Well, that’s so true when you’re writing.  Good writing gives the reader specific information so the reader doesn’t have to try to guess what is going on.  They can concentrate on the story. 


J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Rita,

Good article. I wrote something similar on my blog the other day. The most valuable lesson I learned from a teacher is to simplify my writing. He said, always use $5 words instead of $10 ones.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Great post, Rita. Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

So true, Rita. I also found that using simple everyday words adds to the author's real voice. You can be yourself and tell the tale.

Rita Karnopp said...

So right JL ... you heard that early on - don't you hate when people use as many 'big' words as they can to impress. Kiss of death. Thanks for your comment. Rita

Rita Karnopp said...

So true, Lorrie... thanks for commenting. :) Rita

Rita Karnopp said...

Thank you, Roseanne. :) Rita

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Rita, I love your articles on writing. They're always to the point and in many ways a reminder that, sometimes even the best of us will need a kick in the pants every so often :-)

Rita Karnopp said...

Hey, Kathy ..thank you. I remember the days when more words were better... I'm glad we're back to simple. :) Rita

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